Admit it, you know the feeling.
The work or school week has finally come to a close. You’re exhausted, hungry, and want nothing more than to curl up on the couch and watch the next episode of your favorite show while enjoying a warm, effortless meal. Hoping a lavish five-course dinner will magically appear if searched for hard enough, you complete the iconic fridge and pantry scan . . . several times. To no avail, you’re left with the same unappealing leftovers, slimy produce, and stale snacks. By now, the sun has set and you’ve traded in your slacks for sweatpants; a trip to the store accompanied by meal preparation is out of the question. With options dwindling and Netflix calling your name, you either:
- Settle for those old, bland leftovers that may or may not leave you facing undesirable consequences in a few hours—yuck.
- Resort to ordering over-priced takeout that arrives cold and well past the expected delivery time.
- Forego dinner altogether, waking up the next morning more lethargic and hangry than the night before.
If, unlike most of us, you’ve never found yourself in a similar (or identical, no judgment here) scenario, congrats—you likely have a personal chef, still live with your mother, or just simply have your life together. Regardless of your situation or the state of your kitchen, we could all stand to reduce our food waste contribution. And, if helping preserve the health of our environment and its inhabitants isn’t incentive enough, the time, money, and effort the following tips save will surely pique your interest. So, let’s get to it!
STICK TO STAPLES
Filling your grocery cart with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins opens the door to endless possibilities in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, a bunch of spinach or can of chickpeas is far more versatile than a bag of chips or box of frozen pizza (not to mention more nutritious and cost-effective). Purchasing versatile items allows for more variety and increases the likelihood that you’ll utilize the product.
USE WHAT YOU'VE GOT
Piecing together items you’ve already purchased is sure to leave your garbage can empty and tummy full. We all have those items that are shoved to the back of the shelf and left to camp out until they reach their expiration date. Delay your next trip to the store by putting those neglected foods to use!
THINK BEFORE YOU TOSS
Food waste accumulates for a variety of reasons. For instance, after purchasing those lovely staple wholefoods, you’ll find yourself with heaps of produce peels, rinds, stems, and seeds. Though inedible, these food remnants are considered waste if their final resting place is the landfill. Consider ways to repurpose each item, like composting plant scraps or sprinkling coffee grounds in the pot of a houseplant.
BEFRIEND YOUR FREEZER
Just can’t seem to polish off your fresh produce before it goes bad? Take a trip down the frozen section of the grocery store next time. With a longer shelf life, you won’t find yourself tossing punnets of moldy blueberries (and money) out each week! Similarly, if items or leftovers are losing freshness, freeze them to extend their life.
SPREAD THE WEALTH
Just as fruit and vegetable scraps can be considered food waste, so can eating beyond your means. Suppose you stuck to the staples, which included adding a bundle of bananas to your shopping cart, but by the end of the week you’re left with several brown ones. Continuing the waste reduction efforts, you freeze some to add to smoothies and make banana bread with the rest—composting the peels of course ;) After deciding you can’t possibly finish the entire loaf yourself before it spoils, you spread the wealth by offering up slices to neighbors, friends, or family.